Today, I want to discuss the importance of avoiding narratives and ideas that are designed to tear us down, make us feel small, and lower our self-esteem.
Creating low self-esteem
One of the reasons I created Become An Individual was to help people safeguard themselves, their loved ones, and their resources against the aggressions of predators.
From our money to our bodies, we have resources that predators wish to take and utilize for themselves. We understand this on the more direct levels: thieves wish to take our property, robbers wish to take our money, sexual abusers wish to forcibly use our bodies for their pleasures, and so on. However, we don’t see the more subtle versions of this treachery.
How about the government that demands our money in the form of taxes so that they can line their own pockets? Or what about the corporation that makes us feel pathetic, so they sell us yet another product we don’t need? Better yet, what about the “friend” who keeps us down so they can use us as an emotional punching bag?
The goal of all vultures, whether large institutions or feckless individuals, is to make their prey weaker and easier to take advantage of. Becuase of this, institutions and individual predators have a goal to break people through physical, emotional, and intellectual abuse and manipulation.
Examples of manipulations
A few cases: a local government may consistently tell it’s populace that there is a huge homeless problem and that it’s the fault of the citizens. The citizens, feeling regretful about the situation, may vote for higher taxes. However, all the new tax money simply goes to the mayor and his cronies instead of in the hands of those who need it. Instead of fighting back, demanding answers, or directly solving the homeless problem themselves, the citizens instead give the government more power in their degraded state.
Another case: If I am frugal with my money, I understand how important my finances are to my long-term success and stability. However, a corporation wants my money and may manipulate me as a means of earning my capital. They may advertise that my life is incomplete without their product or I’m nowhere near as good-looking as I could be if I used their product. Buying into the manipulation, I may purchase the product but only after I’ve allowed the corporation to undermine my sense of value and confidence in myself.
Last example: Bob is the jokester of the group, and he likes to pick on John. John could state he doesn’t like being disrespected and stand up for himself, however, Bob doesn’t want this. Bob uses personal, sharp jokes to hit John regularly as well as applies group pressure on John, which lowers John’s self-esteem and sense of value. John keeps hanging in the group and allows Bob to verbally abuse him because he doesn’t have the confidence to stand up for himself.
Through manipulations, individuals can be convinced that they lack value. This creates low self-esteem and a pitiful sense of self-worth which makes it easier for predators to hurt and take advantage of the innocent. When we lack an understanding of our value, we don’t stand up for ourselves, protect the people we care about, or defend the resources we have. We will grovel, shrink away from our duties, and make excuses.
How to avoid low self-esteem
In all the situations above, it’s important to note that we can say “no,” and reject the lies, misdirections, and manipulations. When individuals have high self-esteem, it’s infinitely harder to hurt us. We’re more likely to face issues directly and stand up against vultures and manipulators.
When we value things, we don’t waste them, and we do what we can to protect them. When we love truth and the virtue of generosity, we aim to directly resolve issues such as a homeless problem, instead of passing the responsibility to others. When we appreciate our resources, we don’t spend them on frivolous items. When we value our personal preferences, we don’t allow others to make fun of us.
To avoid feeling low self-esteem and to better protect ourselves from manipulators, we have to do a few things:
- We need to develop our rational pride. I harp on this constantly and will do till the day I die because we have to understand our accomplishments and the work we put into them. When we invest in ourselves, we want to protect that investment by ensuring we are always operating at our best. By understanding one’s value, it becomes harder to fall for tricks and emotional manipulations.
- Our second task is to build willpower. The more formidable our willpower, the less likely we are to give into temptations. The more often we say “no” in small ways, the more capable we are to say “no” when more significant threats arrive.
- Build your fortitude. Fortitude is a crucial virtue that allows us to take the beatings of life without crumbling. From constant advertisements to an unbearably large government, we are always under constant fire from institutions and predatory individuals. Develop the ability to ignore these forces as you seek to improve.
- Grow your community of people who are on the same path of improvement as you are. When individuals stand together, it becomes harder for predators to manipulate anyone in the crowd. Find good people who will help you when you feel low, weak, or small.
- Understand the value of positive narratives. Advertisers excel at getting us to buy products because we have this narrative that “we’re not good enough” or that “one product will better our lives.” These narratives are false, and we should focus on crafting stories that inspire us toward virtues.
- Keep focused on your goals as well as the skills you want to master. Self-mastery, as well as goal accomplishment, will always help us raise our view of ourselves as well as ensure we have the stable, true confidence we need to be successful.
- Lastly, ignore toxic ideas and people. We don’t need to invest energy, time, or emotional stability into people or ideas that are destructive. For example, “identity politics” only serves to cast some people as heroes and others as villains regardless of their individual lives. Such ideas and the people that hold them, are manipulators and are focused on undermining your worth and sense of accomplishment. Avoid them.
We’re human. You can follow all advice on this list and then some, but there are moments when we’ll still feel small. It’s always best to remember your self-worth and value while always avoid making choices when in a lowered state.
Additionally, not everyone is operating with ill-intent: the local government may genuinely want to help the homeless, but higher taxes may not be the way. A candy bar from a corporation may not be the best treat, but the corporation does provide an excellent service if the candy bar is enjoyed in moderation. Lastly, Bob may make jokes out of jest and doesn’t have the developed empathy to understand John is taking things personally.
Lastly, what I’m arguing for is strengthening our self-esteem against manipulators, not direct assailants. High self-esteem is meaningless when dealing with a mugger but having a firm sense of value protects us from the snakes and backstabbers in our lives.
- Who has made you feel small, insignificant, pathetic, or low in the past? Do you still associate with them? Why or why not?
- Do you feel better about yourself and your life today then you have before? Why do you think this is? How will you continue this tread of improvement?
- If you feel lower, then you did before, why? What weighs you down and why do these people or ideas burden you?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Wikipedia Commons and Unsplash.